Protests in Iraq after YouTube star Tiba Ali allegedly strangled by her father in 'honour killing'

Dozens of Iraqi protesters gathered on Sunday to stand against the "honour killing" of a 22-year-old YouTube star - who was allegedly strangled by her father.

Tiba Ali was killed on 31 January in the central city of Diwaniyah.

It has been alleged that her father strangled Ms Ali at night while she was asleep. He later turned himself in to the police.

The "honour killing" was met with condemnation from women's rights groups and residents, who sounded the alarm on violence against women in Iraq and the need to reform legislation to impose harsher punishments on perpetrators.

Who is Tiba Ali?

Tiba Ali had been living in Turkey and had a YouTube channel with more than 20,000 subscribers documenting her life there with her Syrian-born boyfriend.

In her first YouTube video in November 2021, Ms Ali said she moved to further her education but chose to stay in Turkey because she enjoyed living there.

Her father reportedly did not agree with the move, nor her plans to marry her partner.

Interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan said that Ms Ali and her father had a heated dispute during a visit to Iraq and that the day before her murder, the local community police had intervened to help them reach a settlement.

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"Honour killings" are seen across the globe, not just in Iraq. In 2010 the United Nations estimated that around 5,000 honour killings take place globally and often do not make the news.

But Iraq's penal code allows husbands to "discipline" their wives, which includes beatings.

While the country's Article 409 reduces murder sentences for men who kill or permanently impair their wives or female relatives because of adultery to up to three years in prison.

Protesters gathered and held banners condemning the killing and demanding legislative reforms.

"There is no honour in the crime of killing women," one placard read.

"Anyone who wants to get rid of a woman accuses her of disgracing her dignity and kills her," protester Israa al-Salman told The Associated Press.

'Tribal justifications' for killings 'unacceptable'

Rosa al-Hamid, an activist with the civil society group the Organisation for Women's Freedom in Iraq, urged the authorities to pass a long-stalled draft law against domestic violence that has been lingering in the Iraqi parliament since 2019.

"Tiba was killed by her father under tribal justifications that are unacceptable," she told AP.

Amnesty International deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Aya Majzoub, said violence against women and girls in Iraq will continue until "Iraqi authorities adopt robust legislation to protect women and girls from gender-based violence."

Diwaniyah's city police department and hospital administration declined to comment about Ms Ali's death.